18 JULY 1931, Page 25

How Some Unemployed Live

The Odyssey of an Out-of-Work. By Terence Horsley.

(Lane. 7s. ed.)

HAVING read The Odyssey of an Out-of-Work, to which Mr. Terence Horsley lends his name, we are not quite sure how much of it is the work of the Scottish electrician, whose scribe Mr. Horsley professes to be, since there are so many " literary- isms " which sound foreign in the mouth of a Scottish working- man. But taking the book as it conies to us, we can see in it a strong and sincere picture of the miseries of the road for the workless and the hideous hoping against hope that falls to the lot of the unemployed.

This Odyssey records a journey on foot in search of work, helped by occasional lifts, from Glasgow to London and from London to Newcastle, where Odysseus was assisted to write the story of his wanderings. Borrow has recorded how adve ntures on the roads of England arc " generally as plentiful as blackberries in autumn," and so the hero of this narrative seems to have found it by what he has to say about the night adventure with the hospital nurse, the virgin tramp, the thrashing of a bully and the benevolent yegg-man. Here one learns much about the professional tramp-world and its shifts and wiles, and about the filth, moral and physical, of the doss-house, where men and women sleep in promiscuity and where is engendered the professional vagrant, whose " tragedy begins the day he is born." Bitter as the hardships of the subject of this narrative were, they are related in a wonderfully even-tempered, almost philosophic, manner. Rarely does any, bitterness of soul creep out, as in the statement that " too many charitable homes believe in forcible religious feeding." Reversely, there is emphatic commendation of the Rowton houses and of the Morning Post Embankment Home, " a passing form of Heaven."